Tag Archives: dry fly

Spring Rises

If you live in the New York metro area, Trout fishing in the Catskills is a traditional rite of spring. Specifically, many of us head up to “Trout Town USA” or Roscoe, NY on most modern maps. Roscoe has been famous for Trout fishing since the 1800’s when the Ontario and Western Railroad brought people up here to Fly Fish. The first dry fly fishing in America happened on fabled streams in the area. I had been to Roscoe on opening day in order to attend several events including the Catskill Fly Fishing Center and Museum’s, “Catskill Legends Dinner” along with their first cast event. The following day I attended the “Two Headed Trout Dinner,” hosted by the Roscoe Chamber of Commerce. At that event I was the winning bid on a silent auction for a weekend at a guesthouse in Roscoe. All of these events are a fine time and I recommend checking them out next year.

Mark practices casting his new Cabela's Fly Rod on the banks of the West Branch.
Mark practices casting his new Cabela’s Fly Rod on the banks of the West Branch.

The West Branch

This fine stream, starting out in Stamford, NY and running all the way to where it meets the East Branch at Junction Pool in Hancock, NY is one of the best wild Trout fisheries in the State of New York. The river was dammed in the 1960s to create the Cannonsville Reservoir, storing additional water supply for New York City. Though it cost Trout anglers many miles of stream the dam created a steady cold-water release on the Delaware. The East Branch is also dammed to create the Pepacton Reservoir however; the releases from this branch are less consistent because the clean water is more highly valued for drinking purposes.

Always use the rubber coated net to protect the fish's protective coating.
Always use the rubber coated net to protect the fish’s protective coating.

Mark and I secured guide Ray Ottulich through The Beaverkill Angler Fly Shop in Roscoe, NY. We met around 11AM at the shop and motored on up the 17 Quickway to a boat put in on the West Branch. This was the first time I floated an eastern river since my trip with dad up to the Andro in Maine a few falls back. I peaked with excitement at the prospect of floating the West Branch for Trout instead of plying the Main Stem for Smallmouth from shore. Fly Fishing from a drift boat is a superior method of fishing as far as I am concerned.

Seeking the Hatch

The Catskills are renowned for their Dry Fly Fishing; this does not mean that deploying the dry fly is the only way to prospect for Trout. This may sound sacrilege however, I remind you the reader; I convinced Mark a spin fishing only man to hang up the ole bait pole and give Fly Fishing a chance. He did, point of the story, sometimes you need to be open minded about fishing. Prime hatches occur on cloudy days or in the morning and evening, this forces us to go down deep with nymphs or fish streamers in rising water when there is no hatch.

First fish on the dry fly and Fly Rod ever!
First fish on the dry fly and Fly Rod ever!

The fishing reports all indicated March Browns and some Blue Wing Olives at dawn or dusk. Setting out a noon is standard procedure in these parts to ensure that you secure the productive water at dusk when the hatches do go off. I started plying the deepwater edges with a streamer to no avail. Then we all switched over to pheasant tail nymphs in the shallow fast water, where the Rainbow Trout stage to eat the Blue Wing Olives nymphs. Mark managed to hook one repeatedly working a stretch of fast water. This period of time did allow us all to hone in our casting for when the actual bugs started coming off of the water.

Sometimes the captain needs to back row to keep you in productive water.
Sometimes the captain needs to back row to keep you in productive water.

Pods of Fish

The sun began to cast long shadows and the noses of Trout touching the top of the water brightened our smiles. Sporadically at first, you could detect feeding Trout by a feint splash or a glint in the water. Tying on the March Brown and an emerger enticed strikes from wary Trout. A few more missed hook ups and we pulled the boat next to a trailer park, boom Mark hooks his first fish on the Dry, a 15-inch Brown Trout! While Mark was busy fighting his Trout I was busy not landing Trout. For some reason I had a major mental block to actually set a dry fly…very frustrating.

Mark's second fish on a Fly Rod, lucky guy!
Mark’s second fish on a Fly Rod, lucky guy!

We continued our leisurely float down the West Branch, picking up speed through some rapids; unfortunately the bug activity was much lighter than expected. This season has been a strange one, very warm in March followed by a snowstorm on opening weekend that has kept the water very cool and delayed the season. As our boat rounded the Hancock 191 Bridge we again were treated to intermittent rises. Again Mark hooks a 17-inch Brown Trout on the dry fly! Lets talk about beginner’s luck…

Famous Pools

The Beaverkill along with the Willowemoc are two of the only undammed major Catskill streams. All of the other’s have had some sort of influence by man, negative (the Esopus) or positive (the West Branch tail water). The Beaverkill northeast of Roscoe to its source is a pristine valley, is less populated and less industrialized than it was one hundred years ago. The public water is limited, sometimes forcing you to wait your turn, however even on a busy fishing weekend in prime season, glorious lonesome water was found.

A Wild Brown Trout from the Beaverkill River.
A Wild Brown Trout from the Beaverkill River.

Saturday was a cloudy day with a bit of humidity and intermittent sprinkles. Perfect weather for a Blue Wing Olive hatch and we were treated to one. Arriving at a secluded though popular pool in the upper Beaverkil we were treated to an empty parking area. I quickly tied on some Blue Wing Olives I had purchases twenty minutes before and the fish were keyed on. Again, I had a lot of action but they fish kept getting a clean release.

Things to Do

Combined the towns of Roscoe and Rockland have plenty of entertainment for anglers when they are not on the river. Rockland has three great establishments we stopped in the Trout Town Brewery, the Rockland House and the Courtyard Tavern. Roscoe has a the popular diner aptly named the Roscoe Diner along with a bistro and a Pizza place. There are five fishing outfitters (fly or spin) in this town and some nice cabins for rent throughout. We are looking forward to the next summer adventure up this way, which will likely be a camping trip.

The Trout Town Brewery in all of her glory.
The Trout Town Brewery in all of her glory.

 

Memorial Day Trout

A few of my favorite freedoms I thank America's armies for defending.
ATF – A few of my favorite freedoms I thank America’s armed forces for defending.

On Memorial Day, we remember those who died in combat for the United States of America, it also marks the unofficial start to the summer season. This year, in New Jersey, it also marked the end of in season Trout stocking.  Needless to say, after all the parades and barbeques were finished, MKFF hit the Paulinskill for some Trout fishing.

Rain, Rain, Go Away

Unseasonably Cold Weather
Unseasonably Cold Weather

I took off on Friday and was intent on fishing. There was a strong cold front blowing threw, paired with moderate rain, I was not expecting much action. I attempted to nymph with the Bounce Rig, an old stand by on days like this.  After about an hour on the river, I had hooked one Trout and it got away. The rain picked up and I headed home to catch up on some odds and ends.

Fly Tying Riverside
Fly Tying Riverside

Dry Fly Action

This time of the Trout season Blue Winged Olives, March Browns and Grannom Caddis are ending their hatches. Pale Evening Duns, Cinnamon Caddis and Light Cahills are just starting to hatch. The colder season we have experienced has certainly delayed these time lines. We did see BWOs, Pale Evening Duns and a host of Caddis flies throughout the day. Trout were continuously slurping in the shady spots under bridges and trees upon our arrival.

Skunk Buster Brown Trout on BWO
Skunk Buster Brown Trout on BWO

The Tactics

Dry-Dropper

When Trout are slurping off the surface, you will hear a distinct toilet bowl flushing sound. When they simply swirl the surface it means the Trout is likely feeding on an emerging insect. During any hatch there are insects coming off of the surface of the water and those that are rising to the surface. A technique my brother filled me on in is to fish both sections of water at the same time. In order to do this, tie on a “hopper-dropper” style rig. I prefer a size 16 Dry Fly attractor pattern; I use a Coachman for Mayfly hatches. Next, attach 16 to 18 inches of tippet to the back. On this tippet, tie on a size 18-bead head nymph, I use a Pheasant Tail Flashback, again to imitate Mayfly emergers.

I love lazy days off said the turtle.
“I love lazy days off,” said the turtle.

Bead Head Woolly Bugger

The former hatchery resident Trout have settled into comfortable, cool, aerated feeding lanes. The rifles at the head of a pool come to mind as one of the better areas to lie. Another suitable place is the turbulent water under overhanging tree branches. Sending a Bugger across into the turbulence, allowing it to dead drift through and performing two inch strip retrieves will yield Trout action. Allow the Bugger to hang in the current for a few seconds before stripping it in can encourage a strike.

Bead Head Woolly Bugger pulled this out of a run.
Bead Head Woolly Bugger pulled this out of a run.

Spin Fishing with Flies

One of the more innovative techniques I had the opportunity to witness this weekend was brought stream side by Mark. He noticed how I was bringing Trout in using the Pheasant Tail dropper. He tied a dropper to the center hook of a one inch Rapala Floater, he was then able to dead drift the lure across the pool and entice a strike.

Partially thanks to this technique, Mark completed his first ever Paulinskill Grand Slam, congratulations are due to him, there are precious few opportunities in a year to catch a Brown Trout, Rainbow Trout, Brook Trout and a Smallmouth all in the same day.

Mark's Skunk Buster
Mark’s Skunk Buster

Conclusion

I had a decent day on the Fly Rod, managed to bring in ten Brown Trout, while fighting countless others. My biggest regret was not landing the acrobatic Smallmouth I dragged out from under an overhanging branch. In a few weeks the Trout will be hiding in the coldest available water while the Smallmouth transition to aggressive feeders.

Got to love New Jersey in the springtime.
Got to love New Jersey in the springtime.

Coming up next, a Bass Popper recipe and a trip to the Sunset Hill Shooting Range in the Pocono Mountains.

Labor of Love

Today was a go for fishing.  After skiing the past two days, it was time to wet a line.  The temperature was around 15 degrees and the sky was overcast: perfect winter fishing conditions.  I made the two mile walk from the parking lot to the tailwater section of the Stagecoach.  It was truly a labor of love; the access road had about 1 fresh inch of snow on it.  By the time I remembered that I had snow shoes in the car, it was too late to turn around.  I pushed on through.

Trout Nirvana!
Trout Nirvana!

After the last bend, I finally hit the tailwater.  The water had a lot of structure: pools, pockets, and slicks.  It was perfect trout habitat.  I setup my rig for standard indi-nymphing.  I used two flies that I designed last year winter fishing the San Miguel outside of Telluride, CO.  A 8 Simple Stonefly at the end of the leader.  Off the eye of the stonefly, I tied a size 20 variation of an Al’s Rat (red wire body and dubbing on the thorax).  All using 6.5x TroutHunter Fluoro.

IMG_0877

I worked my upstream, nymphing for about 200 yards.  The fish were scattered everywhere.  I had to keep adjusting my split shot and indicator for the different conditions for each pocket or pool or slow riffle.  The adjustments paid off.  I pulled out 8 nice rainbows, indi-nymphing my way up.  Two on the stone and six on the midge nymph.

He wanted the midge nymph
He wanted the midge nymph
Sweet colors
Sweet colors
He wanted the stone
He wanted the stone
Back to the midge
Back to the midge
Ready to be landed
Ready to be landed
Fishy Looking
Fishy Looking
Yes it was!
Yes it was!
This guy was 20 inches and fought me through three different pools
This guy was 20 inches and fought me through three different pools

The beat that I worked had a decent amount of surface activity from the fish.  After I pulled out that 20 incher, I wanted to try some dry flies.  After re-rigging, I had a size 18 Grey Comparadun attached by 7x TroutHunter mono.  I worked two medium size slicks, and stuck two and lost two others.  It was surreal casting dries while it was snowing.

Al Caucci's Comparadun worked here
Al Caucci’s Comparadun worked here

It was an amazing day, but it was a haul to get back there in the winter.  10 bows in total and some dry fly action to boot!